Before heading to Iceland for the first time, I was intrigued by all of the breathtaking photographs I had seen on the gorgeous Icelandic landscapes. Whether you are visiting Iceland in summer or winter, one thing is for sure, you are guaranteed to see amazing scenery unlike anywhere else in the world. Waterfalls, glacial landscapes, volcanoes and much more are all visible when you tour Iceland and we were both ready to get out and explore this beautiful country. The Golden Circle Tour is inevitably THE tour to take, especially if you are visiting Iceland for the first time.
Time Tours Iceland
Thanks to Time Tours Iceland, they made this happen for us and we both want to take this opportunity to publicly thank them for their awesome hospitality and service during our visit to Iceland. For anyone that hasn’t visited Iceland, the Golden Circle Tour is the so-called ‘cream of the crop’ as it offers opportunities to see a myriad of natural landscapes stereotypical of Iceland.
Time Tours Iceland offer a variety of day tours around Iceland and I would recommend checking out their website for details on which selection of tours meet your preferences.
Early Morning Start
Time Tours Iceland make the day trip to the Golden Circle simple, care-free and an extremely enjoyable experience. We waited outside our hotel in the heart of downtown Reykjavik and our tour guide Johan promptly picked us up at 8:30 AM. After a couple of other hotel stops to pick up the remaining guests on the tour, we headed out on our adventure to tour the Golden Circle.
Our group was small but included a young Australian on her travels throughout Europe, a London based individual on a short vacation to Iceland and an inspirational group of three that included an 82-year-old woman who was traveling in hope of seeing the Northern Lights for the first time. If this doesn’t give us all inspiration to continue traveling, nothing will!
One other aspect worth noting when visiting Iceland in winter is the distinct lack of daylight, as you can probably tell from our pictures. It is still dark at 11:00 AM with daylight starting around 11:15 AM and by 3:15 PM it is already starting to go dark again. Make the most of the daylight hours you have is my recommendation!
Hveragerði Earthquake Exhibition
So our journey began as we headed out of Reykjavik and made our first stop in the small town of Hveragerði famous for an earthquake that struck in 2008 measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale. A brief 15 minute stop here allowed bathroom use and a wander around the small shopping mall and earthquake exhibition.
Hveragerði is also home to a geothermal park which is the prize possession of this town. Locals can be found here baking bread using the heat from the geothermal activity in the ground as an oven. It’s not every day that you find something like this in your backyard!
After our short break, we headed towards the start of the Golden Circle and our first main attraction which was the one I was most looking forward to – Gullfoss! A few minutes prior to reaching this iconic landmark, we stopped at a ‘smaller’ waterfall as quoted by Johan known as ‘Faxi’. Despite the foggy and overcast conditions, we were still able to make out this waterfall which both of us agreed was not particularly small and was impressive in its own way.
I can understand where Johan could deem Faxi as small when compared to the magnitude and beauty of Gullfoss where we reached shortly after. Gullfoss is in one word – STUNNING! Seeing Gullfoss in winter provides a completely different complexion than in summer as part of the waterfall is frozen while other parts are still flowing down the river.
Johan dropped us off at the bottom of Gullfoss giving us enough time to take pictures and then walk up the steps to the top providing different views overlooking the falls. I think the images of Gullfoss portray the natural beauty here without going into too much detail. In my opinion, this is a must-see attraction for everyone and thanks to Time Tours Iceland they made this a memorable moment for us.
After spending 45 minutes exploring Gullfoss, I didn’t think the tour could get any better but how wrong could I have been as we approach the geothermal park of Geysir. Although Geysir is no longer, or should I say currently an active geyser, we were still in for a real treat exploring the park and of course seeing the active Strokkur geyser which erupts every 4-7 minutes.
As you walk around the geothermal ground and notice the pools and channels of hot water with steam billowing out from them, it really puts into perspective the vast differences in natural landscape from what we are used to every day.
Strokkur was the highlight of this attraction without doubt, and we were fortunate to capture 4 or 5 eruptions during the time we spent wandering around. The difficult aspect when trying to take a video or capture that perfect picture at the point of eruption is calculating when the next one is about to take place.
Geysir was also the designated spot for lunch and we sampled some amazing lamb stew soup, one of the stereotypical dishes of Icelandic cuisine.
Thingvellir National Park
Whether you are a history buff or geography geek, Thingvellir National Park is a must-see location on the Golden Circle tour. Home of the Icelandic parliament as an open-air assembly since the year 930 until the late 18th Century, Thingvellir was a central spot primarily utilized to settle disputes and set laws to aid the development of Iceland.
However, Thingvellir is also famous for being the location where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet. This divergent boundary is shifting about 2.5cm every year meaning that Iceland is growing at that exact same rate. It’s a pretty cool experience walking along the ridge knowing that Europe is on one side and North America is on the other.
The views from on top of the ridge are stunning as you overlook a land that was once a spot where Icelandic politics took place. Nowadays, the natural beauty is what is left and in my opinion is a much better location as people visiting here can now truly appreciate how nature has taken effect here.
The Golden Circle tour in Iceland provided by Time Tours is a breathtaking and memorable experience that will long live with us. Johan was an exceptional guide and provided plenty of detailed information on both the history and geography behind all of the key locations we visited.
I have a huge soft spot for waterfalls so of course, Gullfoss was my favorite spot, but after visiting Geysir and Thingvellir, this really made the tour an unforgettable and unmissable experience.
If you are interested in taking the Golden Circle tour with Time Tours, you can visit the following webpage and purchase tickets at a price of 9.900 Kr. which equates to around only $76 USD. Please believe me when I say this tour is well worthy of that price and for a full day’s experience, you would be hard-pressed to find a better deal!
Please check out our photo album for many more pictures from our Golden Circle Tour.
Disclaimer – We would like to thank Time Tours Iceland for providing us with complimentary tickets for the Golden Circle Tour. The content of this post are solely our personal opinions/experiences and we were not financially compensated for this post.
Such beautiful and amazing places you got to see! Iceland is near the top of my bucket list. Can’t wait to see it with my own eyes. Glad you guys made it out there! Sounds like this tour is a must-do activity for sure!
It definitely is Lauren! Time Tours are a great company to work with as well and Johan was an awesome guide!! I am so glad we were able to experience all of this in Iceland but already we are itching to get back there ASAP!!
Your photos are beautiful! I did a similar tour in fall 2012 and visited the main sites you did but wow is it ever different in the snow! I guess I need to go back! I’ll probably be like that 82 year old woman hunting for the Northern lights-haha!
Thanks Hannah!! We feel the exact same way now about visiting Iceland again in the summer to be able to see all the colours! But I am so glad we were able to experience the beauty in the snow because let’s be honest, we all associate Iceland with snowy, cold conditions right!
this tour looks fantastic! We are considering a trip to Iceland in June. What type of vehicle did you have on the tour?
The tour was awesome Tamara! Actually the vehicle was just a mini-bus or shuttle bus, nothing special or specifically catered to the conditions. However, the winter tires were the essential items especially with the snow packed roads 🙂 The Icelandic folks don’t think anything of a few inches of snow though right!
I went for the same tour in Iceland and I really think it’s a must for everyone visiting this incredible country! All the places were just stunning!!! I visited the Golden Circle at the beginning of May and it looks very different than on your pictures but I loved the winter wonderland landscape that you show here too!
Brrr that looks cold!
I didn’t know Iceland had an earthquake in 2008. It was certainly bad year for the country along with the financial crisis.
Iceland has been a country which intrigues me for a while. My sister went there about a month ago and had a fabulous time. Maybe I should get myself onto one of these tours? 🙂
Your photos are stunning – sounds like a phenomenol tour. I wont lie, we didn’t enjoy the Golden Circle, though perhaps this is because we left it for last. After having driven the ring road and experienced the amazing country that Iceland is, we found the Golden Circle too touristy and overhyped with way too many people. Though it looks like you went during the morning while there were less crowds, so this could be the key to enjoying it a bit more 🙂
I loved Iceland when I went so much in 2013 that it was on the plane journey home when I started my blog! Isn’t the scenery on the Golden Circle tour just stunning?! I’d never seen a geyser before and it just took my breath away! I love your beautiful pics 🙂
We too visited Iceland in the winter months, but it looked much snowier when you visited! Still gorgeous nonetheless. It’s hard for Iceland to not put on a stunning show, regardless of season! We enjoyed the Golden Circle and all of its features. It was a little crowded for our taste, and we much enjoyed Iceland when it was just us on the open road. That being said, we still think it’s a must do for 1st time visitors to Iceland!
Though I’m dying in Canada’s -30 degree weather you are tempting me to visit Iceland in the winter! The view from the National Park!
Great photo of Strokkur. I agree about the difficulty in trying to get the perfect image/video of this attraction but you have done a great job.
After completely a similar self-drive trip to yourselves, Iceland quickly moved to the top of our list of must re-visit countries. I love the landscapes and would now like to go again during the summer months to experience the sun never fully setting.
I’m so jealous!!! I’d love to go to Iceland, it’s definitely on my to do list. That tour looks like good value for money. Happy travels 🙂
Wow – this tour looks incredible. We have always wanted to visited Iceland and you have just made us WANT to even more 🙂
Absolutely love all the amazing photos that you have shared – felt like we were standing beside you when you took them.